Book Of Morgan Le Fay, And The Three Damsels
( Originally Published A Long Time Ago )
THEN after the quests of Sir Gawaine, of Sir Tor, and of King Pellinore, Merlin fell in a dotage on the damsel that King Pellinore brought to the court with him ; and she was one of the damsels of the lake, Nimue by name. But Merlin would let her have no rest, but always he would be with her in every place ; and ever she made Merlin good cheer, till she had learned of him all manner of things that she desired, and he was so sore assotted upon her that he might not be from her. So, upon a time, he told unto King Arthur, "That he should not endure long, and that, for all his crafts, he should be put in the earth quick." And so he told the king many things that should befall; but always he warned King Arthur to keep well his sword Excalibur, and the scabbard ; for he told him how the sword and the scabbard should be stolen from him by a woman that he most trusted. Also he told King Arthur that he would miss him, yet had ye rather than all your lands to have me again. "Ah !" said the King, "since I know of your adventure purvey for it, and put away, by your crafts, that misadventure." "Nay," said Merlin, "it will not be." And then he departed from King Arthur. And within a while the Lady of the Lake departed, and Merlin went evermore with her wheresoever she went. And oftentimes Merlin would have her swear that he should never do none enchantment upon her if he would have his will; and so he swore.
So she and Merlin went over the sea unto the land of Ben-wick, where King Ban was king, that had great war against King Claudas; and there Merlin spake with King Ban's wife, a fair lady and a good, and her name was Elaine, and there he saw young Launcelot. There the Queen made great sorrow for the mortal war that King Claudas made on her lord and on her lands. "Take no heaviness," said Merlin, "for this child, within these twenty years, shall revenge you on King Claudas, that all Christendom shall speak of it, and this same child shall be the most man of worship of this world; and I know well that his first name was Galahad, and sith ye have confirmed him Launcelot." "That is truth," said the Queen, "his first name was Galahad." "Oh! . Merlin," said the Queen, "shall I live to see my son such a man of prowess ?" "Yea, lady, on my peril ye shall see it, and live after many winters." And then, soon after, the Lady of the Lake and Merlin departed ; and by the way as they went Merlin showed her many wonders, and came into Cornwall. And always Merlin lay about the lady ; and she was ever passing weary of him, and fain would have been delivered of him ; for she was afraid of him, because he was a devil's son, and she could not put him away by any means.
And so, upon a time, it happened that Merlin showed to her a rock where was a great wonder, and wrought by enchantment, which went under a stone. So, by her subtle craft and working, she made Merlin to go under the stone to let her wit of the marvels there; but she wrought so there for him, that he came never out, for all the craft that he could do: and so she departed, and left Merlin.
AND then King Arthur rode to Camelot, and there he made a solemn feast, with mirth and joy. So anon after he returned to Carlisle, and there came to King Arthur new tidings, that the King of Denmark, and the King of Ireland, his brother, and the King of Wales, and the King of Soleyese, and the King of the Isles of Longtainse ; all these five knights, with a great host, were entered into King Arthur's land, and burnt and slew all that they found afore them, both cities and castles, that it was great pity to see. "Alas !" said King Arthur, "yet had I never rest one month, sith I was crowned king of this land. Now shall I never rest till I meet with those kings in a fair field, and to that I make mine avow ; for my true liege ' people shall not be destroyed in my default, go with me who will, and abide who will." Then the King let write unto King Pellinore, and prayed him in all haste to make him ready, with such people as he might lightliest rear, and hie him after in all haste. All the barons were privily wrath that the King should depart so suddenly; but the King by no means would abide, but made writings unto them that were not there, and bade them hie after him such as were not at the time in the court. Then the King came to Queen Guenever, and said, "Lady, make you ready; for ye shall go with me, for I may not long miss you; ye shall cause me to be the more hardier, what ad-venture soever befall me; I will not wit my lady to be in any jeopardy." "Sir," said she, "I am at your command, and shall be ready what time soever ye be ready." So on the morrow the King and Queen departed with such fellowship as they had, and came into the north in a forest beside the Humber, and there lodged them. When the tidings came to the five kings above said, that King Arthur was beside the Humber in a forest, there was a knight, brother unto one of the five kings, that gave them this counsel : "Ye know well that King Arthur has with him the flower of chivalry of the world, as it is proved by the great battle he did with the eleven kings ; and, therefore, hie unto him night and day, till that we be nigh him ; for the longer he tarrieth the bigger he is, and we ever the weaker. And he is so courageous of himself that he is come to the field with little people ; and, therefore, let us set upon him or it be day, and we shall so slay of his knights that there shall not one escape."
ONTO this counsel the five kings assented ; and so they passed forth with their host through North Wales, and came upon King Arthur by night, and set upon his host, he and his knights being in their pavilions ; and King Arthur was unarmed, and had laid him to rest with the Queen. "Sirs," said Sir Kaye, "it is not good that we be unarmed." "We shall have no need," said Sir Gawaine and Sir Griflet, that lay in a little pavilion by the King. With that they heard a great noise, and many cried, "Treason !" "Alas !" said King Arthur, "we are all betrayed. Unto arms, fellows!" cried he then. So they were anon armed at all points. Then came there a wounded knight unto King Arthur, and said to him, "Sir, save yourself and my lady, the Queen; for our host is destroyed, and much people of ours slain." So anon the King, and the Queen, and three knights, rode towards the Humber to pass over it, and the water was so rough that they were afraid to pass over. "Now may ye choose," said King Arthur, "whether ye will abide, and take the adventure upon this side ; for, and ye be taken, they will slay you." "It were me rather," said the Queen, "to die in the water, than for to fall into your enemies' hands, and there be slain." And as they stood so talking Sir Kaye saw the five kings coming, on horseback, by themselves alone, with their spears in their hands, towards them. "Lo!" said Sir Kaye, "yonder be the five kings ; let us go to them and match them." "That were folly," said Sir Gawaine; "for we are but four, and they be five." "That is truth," said Sir Griflet. "No force," said Sir Kaye. "I will undertake two of them, and may ye three undertake the other three." And therewith Sir Kaye let his horse run as fast as he might, and struck one of them through the shield and the body of a fathom deep, that the king fell to the earth stark dead. That saw Sir Gawaine, and ran into another king so hard, that he smote him through the body ; and therewith King Arthur ran to another, and smote him through the body with a spear, that he fell down to the earth dead; then Sir Griflet ran to the fourth king, and gave him such a fall, that he broke his neck. Anon Sir Kaye ran unto the fifth king, and smote him so hard upon the helm, that the stroke cleaved the helm and the head to the shoulders. "That was well stricken," said King Arthur, "and most worshipfully hast thou holden thy promise ; therefore I shall honour thee as long as I live." And therewith they set the Queen in a barge in the Humber ; but always Queen Guenever praised Sir Kaye for his noble deeds, and said, "What lady that ye love, and she love you not again, she were greatly to blame ; and among ladies," said the Queen, "I shall bear your noble fame; for ye spake a great word, and fulfilled it worshipfully." And therewith the Queen departed. Then the King and the three knights rode into the forest; for there they supposed to hear of them that were escaped, and there King Arthur found the most part of his people, and told them all how the five kings were dead ; "and, therefore, let us hold together till it be day, and when their host espy that their chieftains be slain, they will make such sorrow that they shall not be able to help them-selves." Right so as the King had said, so it was ; for when they found the five kings dead, they made such sorrow, that they fell down from their horses. Therewith came King Arthur, with a few people, and slew on the right hand and on the left, that well nigh there escaped no man ; but all were slain to the number of thirty thousand men. And when the battle was all ended King Arthur kneeled down and thanked God full meekly; and then he sent for the Queen, and she came anon, and made great joy for the victory of that dangerous battle.
THEN it befell that King Arthur, and many of his knights, rode on hunting into a great forest, and it happened King Arthur, King Urience, and Sir Accolon, of Gaul, followed a great hart, for they three were well horsed, and they chased so fast that within awhile they three were ten miles from their fellowship, and at the last they chased so sore, that they slew their horses under them. Then were they all three on foot, and ever they saw the hart afore them, passing weary and am-bushed. "What will ye do ?" said King Arthur, "we are hard bested." "Let us go on foot," said King Urience, "till we may meet with some lodging." Then were they ware of the hart, that lay on a great water bank, and a brachet biting upon his throat, and many other hounds came after. Then King Arthur blew the prize, and dight the hart there. Then King Arthur looked about him, and saw afore him, in a great water, a little ship, all appareled with silk, down to the water, and the ship came straight unto them, and landed on the sands. Then King Arthur went to the bank, and looked in, and saw none earthly creature therein. "Sirs," said the king, "come thence, and let us see what is in this ship." So they went in all three, and found it richly, hanged with cloth of silk; and by that time it was dark night, there suddenly were about them a hundred torches, set on all the sides of the shipboards, and gave a great light. And therewith came out twelve fair damsels, and saluted King Arthur on their knees, and called him by his name, and said he was welcome, and such cheer as they had he should have of the best. And the King thanked them fair. Therewith they led the King and his two fellows into a fair chamber, and there was a cloth laid, richly beseen, of all that belonged to a table, and there they were served of all wines and meats that they could think of, that the King had great marvel; for he fared never better in his life for one supper. And so, when they had supped at their leisure, King Arthur was led into a chamber, a richer beseen chamber saw he never none, and so was King Urience served, and led into another chamber; and Sir Accolon was led into the third chamber, passing rich and well beseen. And so were they laid in their beds right easily, and anon they fell on sleep, and slept marvellously sore all that night. And on the morrow King Urience was in Camelot, a-bed in his wife's arms, Morgan le Fay; and when he awoke he had great marvel how he came there, for on the even afore he was about two days' journey from Camelot. And also, when King Arthur awoke, he found himself in a dark prison, hearing about him many complaints of woeful knights.
THEN said King Arthur, "What are ye that so complain?" "We are here twenty good knights prisoners," said they, "and some of us have lain here seven years, and some more and some less." "For what cause," said King Arthur. "We shall tell you," said the knights. "The lord of this castle is named Sir Damas, and he is the falsest knight that liveth, and full of treason, and a very coward as any liveth ; and he hath a younger brother, a good knight of prowess, his name is Sir Ontzlake, and this traitor, Damas, the elder, will give him no part of his livelihood, but that Sir Ontzlake keepeth through his prowess, and so he keepeth from him a full fair manor, and a rich; and therein Sir Ontzlake dwelleth worshipfully, and is beloved by all the people and commonality. And this Sir Da-mas, our master, is as evil beloved, for he is without mercy, and he is a very coward, and great war hath been between them both; but Sir Ontzlake hath ever the better, and ever he proffereth Sir Damas to fight for the livelihood, body for body, but he will do nothing; or else to find a knight to fight with him, unto that Sir Damas hath granted, to find a knight, but he is so evil, and hated, that there is no knight that will fight for him. And when Sir Damas saw this, that there was no knight that would fight for him, he hath daily lain in wait, with many knights with him, to take all the knights. in this country, to see and espy their adventures ; he hath taken them by force, and brought them into his prison, and so he took us severally, as we rode on our adventures ; and many good knights have died in this prison for hunger, to the number of eighteen knights ; and if any of us all that is here, or hath been, would have foughten with his brother, Ontzlake, he would have delivered us; but because this Sir Damas is so false, and so full of treason, we would never fight for him to die for it ; and we be so lean for hunger, that we may hardly stand on our feet." "God deliver you, for His mercy," said King Arthur. Anon there-with came a damsel unto King Arthur, and asked him, "What cheer?" "I cannot tell," said he. "Sir," quoth she, "and ye will fight for my lord, ye shall be delivered out of prison, or else ye shall never escape with your life." "Now," said King Arthur, "that is hard ; yet had rather I fight with a knight than to die in prison ; if I may be delivered with this, and all these prisoners," said King Arthur, "I will do the battle." "Yes," said the damsel. "I am ready," said King Arthur, "if I had a horse and armour." "Ye shall lack none," said the damsel. "Me seemeth, damsel, I should have seen you in the court of King Arthur." "Nay," said the damsel, "I came never there; I am the lord's daughter of this castle." Yet was she false, for she was one of the damsels of Morgan le Fay. Anon she went unto Sir Damas, and told him how he would do battle for him. And so he sent for King Arthur; and when he came he was well coloured, and well made of his limbs, and that all the knights that saw him said it were a pity that such a knight should die in prison. So Sir Damas and he were agreed that he should fight for him, upon this covenant, that all the other knights should be delivered ; and unto that was Sir Damas sworn unto King Arthur, and also to do this battle to the uttermost. And with that all the twenty knights were brought out of the dark prison into the hall, and delivered; and so they all abode to see the battle.
TURN we unto Sir Accolon of Gaul, that when he awoke he found himself by a deep well side, within half-a-foot in great peril of death, and there came out of that fountain a pipe of silver, and out of that pipe ran water all on high in stone of marble. And when Sir Accolon saw this, he blessed him and said, "Jesus, save my lord, King Arthur, and King Urience, for these damsels in this ship have betrayed. us; they were devils and no women; and if I may escape this misadventure, I shall destroy all where I may find these false damsels that use enchantments." And with that there came a dwarf with a great mouth and flat nose, and saluted Sir Accolon, and said how he came from Queen Morgan le Pay, "and she greeteth you well, and biddeth you to be strong of heart, for ye shall fight to-morrow with a knight at the hour of prime; and, there-fore, she hath sent you here Excalibur, :King Arthur's sword, and the scabbard ; and she desireth you, as you love her, that ye do the battle to the uttermost, without any mercy, like as ye have promised her when ye spake together in private; and, what damsel that bringeth her the knight's head that ye shall fight withal, she will make her a rich queen for ever." "Now I understand you well," said Sir Accolon, "I shall hold that I have promised her, now I have the sword. When saw ye my lady, Queen Morgan ?" "Right late," said the dwarf. Then Sir Accolon took him in his arms, and said, "Recommend me unto my lady, Queen Morgan, and tell her, that all shall be done as I have promised her, or else I will die for it. Now I suppose," said Sil- Accolon, "she hath made all these crafts and enchantments for this battle." "Ye may well believe it," said the dwarf. Right so came a knight and a lady with six squires, and saluted Sir Accolon, and prayed him to arise, and come and rest him at his manor. And so Sir Accolon mounted upon a spare horse, and went with the knight into a fair manor by a - priory, and there he had passing good cheer. Then Sir Damas sent unto his brother, Sir Ontzlake, and bid him make him ready by to-morrow, at the hour of prime, and to be in the field to fight with a good knight, for he had found a knight that was ready to do battle at all points. When this word came unto Sir Ontzlake he was passing heavy, for he was wounded a little too sore through both his thighs with a spear, and made great moan, but for all he was wounded he would have taken the battle in hand. So it happened at that time, by the means of Morgan, le Fay, Sir Accolon was lodged with Sir Ontzlake, and when he heard of that battle, and 'how Sir Ontzlake was wounded, he said he would fight for him, because Morgan le Fay had sent him Excalibur and the scabbard for to fight with the knight on the morrow. This was the cause Sir Accolon took the battle in hand. Then Sir Ontzlake was passing glad, and thanked Sir Accolon heartily that he would do so much for him. And therewith Sir Ontzlake sent word to his brother, Sir Damas, that he had a knight that for him should be ready in the field by the hour of prime.
So on the morrow King Arthur was armed and well horsed, and asked Sir Damas, "When shall we go to the field?" "Sir," said Sir Damas, "ye shall hear mass." And when mass was done, there came a squire on a great horse, and asked Sir Damas if his knight was ready? "for our knight is ready in the field." Then King Arthur mounted on horseback, and there were all the knights and commons of the country; and so by all advices there were chosen twelve good men of the country for to wait upon the two knights. And, as King Arthur was upon horseback, there came a damsel from Morgan le Fay, and brought unto King Arthur a sword like unto Excalibur, and the scabbard, and said unto King Arthur, "Morgan le Fay sendeth you here your sword for great love." And he thanked her, and weened it had been so, but she was false, for the sword and the scabbard was counterfeit, brittle, and false.
AND then they dressed them on both parties of the field, and let their horses run so fast, that either smote other in the midst of their shields with their spears, that both horses and men went to the ground, and then they started up both and drew out their swords ; and, in the meantime, while that they were thus fighting, came the damsel of the lake into the field that had put Merlin under the stone; and she came thither for the love of King Arthur, for she knew how Morgan le Fay had so ordained that King Arthur should have been slain that day; and, therefore, she came to save his life. And so they went eagerly to do their battle, and gave many sad strokes; but always King Arthur's sword was not like Sir Accolon's; so that, for the most part, every stroke that Sir Accolon gave he wounded King Arthur sore, that it was marvel that he stood, and always his blood fell fast from him. When King Arthur beheld the ground so sore beblooded he was dismayed, and then he deemed treason that his sword was changed, for his sword was not still as it was wont to do, therefore was he sore adread to be dead, for ever him seemed that the sword in Sir Accolon's hand was Excalibur; for at every stroke that Sir Accolon struck, he drew blood on King Arthur. "Now, knight," said Sir Accolon to King Arthur, "keep thee well from me." But King Arthur answered not again, and gave him such a buffet on the helm, that he made him to stoop, nigh falling to the ground. Then Sir Accolon withdrew him a little, and came on with Excalibur on high, and smote King Arthur such a buffet, that he fell nigh to the earth. Then were they both wrath, and gave each other many sore strokes ; but always King Arthur lost so much blood, that it was marvel that he stood on his feet; but he was so full of knighthood, that knightly he endured the pain. And Sir Accolon lost not a drop of blood, therefore he waxed passing light, and King Arthur was passing feeble, and thought verily to have died. But, for all that, he made countenance as though he might endure, and held Sir Accolon as short as he might: but Sir Accolon was so bold because of Excalibur, that he waxed passing hardy. But all men that beheld them said they saw never knight fight so well as did King Arthur, considering the blood that he bled, and all the people were sorry for him, but the two brethren would not accord. Then always they fought together as fierce knights, and King Arthur withdrew him a little for to rest him, and Sir Accolon called him to battle and said, "It is no time for me to suffer thee to rest." And therewith he came fiercely upon King Arthur, and King Arthur was wrath for the blood that he had lost, and smote Sir Accolon upon the helm so mightily, that he made him nigh fall to the earth, and there-with King Arthur's sword brake at the cross, and fell in the grass among the blood, and the pommel and the handle he held in his hand. When King Arthur saw that, he was greatly afraid to die, but always he held up his shield, and lost no ground, nor abated any cheer.
THEN Sir Accolon began to say thus, with words of treason : "Knight, thou are overcome, and mayest no longer endure ; and, also, thou are weaponless, and thou hast lost much of thy blood, and I am full loth to slay thee; therefore, yield thee as recreant." "Nay," said King Arthur, "I may not so, for I have promised to do thee battle to the uttermost by the faith of my body while my life lasted ; and, therefore, I had rather to die with honor than to live with shame ; and if it were possible for me to die a hundred times, I had rather so often die than to yield me to thee; for, though I lack weapon, and am weaponless, yet shall I lack no worship ; and if thou slay me weaponless, it shall be to thy shame." "Well," said Sir Accolon, "for the shame, I will not spare. Now keep thee from me," said Sir Accolon, "for thou art but a dead man." And there-with, Sir Accolon gave him such a stroke, that he fell nigh to the earth, and would not have King Arthur to cry him mercy. But King Arthur pressed unto Sir Accolon with his shield, and gave him, with the pommel of his hand, such a buffet, that he went three strides back. When the damsel of the lake beheld King Arthur, how full of prowess and worthiness his body was, and the false treason that was wrought for him to have slain him, she had great pity that so good a knight, and so noble a man of worship, should be destroyed. And at the next stroke, Sir Accolon struck him such a stroke, that, by the damsel's enchantment, the sword, Excalibur, fell out of. Sir Accolon's hand to the earth ; and therewith King Arthur lightly leapt to it, and quickly gat it in his hand, and forthwith he perceived clearly that it was his good sword, Excalibur, and said, "Thou hast been from me all too long, and much damage hast thou done me." And therewith he espied the scabbard hanging by Sir Accolon's side, and suddenly he leapt to him and pulled the scabbard from him, and anon threw it from him as far as he might throw it. "O knight," said King Arthur, "this day thou hast done me great damage with this sword. Now are ye come to your death ; for I shall not warrant you, but that ye shall be as well rewarded with this sword, or we depart asunder, as thou hast rewarded me ; for much pain have ye made me to endure, and have lost much blood." And there-with King Arthur rushed upon him with all his might, and pulled him to the earth, and then rushed off his helm, and gave him such a buffet on the head, that the blood came out of his ears, nose, and mouth. "Now will I slay thee," said King Arthur. "Slay me ye may," said Sir Accolon, "and it please you, for ye are the best knight that ever I found, and I see well that God is with you; but for I promised to do this battle," said Sir Accolon, "to the uttermost, and never to be recreant while I lived, therefore shall I never yield me with my mouth, but God do with my body what he will." And then King Arthur remembered him, and thought he should have seen this knight. "Now tell me," said King Arthur, "or I will slay thee, of what country thou art? and of what court ?" "Sir knight," quoth Sir Accolon, "I am of the court of King Arthur, and my name is Sir Accolon, of Gaul." Then was King Arthur more dismayed than he was before, for then he remembered him of his sister, Morgan le Fay, and of the enchantment of the ship. "Oh! sir knight," said he, "I pray thee tell me who gave thee this sword, and by whom had ye it?"
THEN Sir Accolon bethought him, and said, "Woe worth this this sword, for by it have I gotten my death." "It may well be," said King Arthur. "Now, sir," said Sir Accolon, "I will tell you : this sword hath been in my keeping the most of these twelve months, and Queen Morgan le ray, King Urience's wife, sent it me yesterday, by a dwarf, to this intent that I should slay King Arthur, her brother ; for ye shall understand that King Arthur is the man which she most hateth in this world, because that he is the most of worship and of prowess of any of her blood. Also she loveth me out of measure as her paramour, and I her again ; and if she might bring about for to slay King Arthur with her crafts, she would slay her husband, King Urience, lightly, and then had she me devised to be king in this land, and so far to reign, and she to be my queen ; but that is now done," said Sir Accolon, "for I am sure of my death." "Well," said King Arthur, "I feel by you ye would have been king in this land; it had been great damage for to have destroyed your lord," said King Arthur. "It is truth," said Sir Accolon ; "but now have I told you the truth, where-fore I pray you, that ye will tell me of whence ye are, and of what court ?" "Oh! Sir Accolon," said King Arthur, "now let the to wit that I am King Arthur, to whom thou hast done great damage." When Sir Accolon heard that, he cried out aloud, "Oh! my gracious lord, have mercy on me ; for I knew not." "Oh! Sir Accolon," said King Arthur, "mercy shalt thou have, because I feel, by thy words at this time, thou knewest not my person; but I understand well by thy words that thou hast agreed to the death of my person, and therefore thou art a traitor : but I blame thee the less, for my sister, Morgan le ray, by her false crafts made thee to agree and consent to her false lusts; but I shall so be avenged upon her, and I live, that all Christendom shall speak of it. God knoweth I have honoured her, and worshiped her more than any of my kin, and more have I trusted her than my own wife, and all my kin after." Then King Arthur called the keepers of the field, and said, "Sirs, come hither, for here we be two knights that have fought unto a great damage of us both, and like each one of us to have slain other, if it had happened so; and had any of us known other, here had been no battle nor stroke stricken." Then all aloud cried Sir Accolon unto all the knights and men that there were gathered together, and said to them, in this manner wise: "Oh! my lords, this noble knight that I have fought withal, which me full sore repenteth, is the most man of prowess of manhood and of worship that in all the world liveth ; for it is himself, King Arthur, our most sovereign, liege lord, and king; and with great mishap, and great misadventure, have I done this battle against my king and lord that I am holden withal."
THEN all the people fell down on their knees, and cried King Arthur's mercy. "Mercy shall ye have," said King Arthur ; "here may ye see what adventures befalleth oftentimes to errant-knights, how I have fought with one of mine own knights to my great damage and his hurt. But, sirs, because I am sore hurt and he both, and have great need of a little rest, ye shall understand my opinion between you two brethren : as to thee, Sir Damas, for whom I have been champion, and won the field of this knight, yet will I judge, because ye, Sir Damas, are called a very proud knight, and full of villainy, and nothing worth of prowess of your deeds ; therefore I will that ye give unto your brother all the whole manor, with the appurtenance, under this manner of form : that Sir Ontzlake hold the manor of you, and yearly to give you a palfrey to ride upon, for that will become you better to ride on that a courser. Also, I charge thee, Sir Damas, upon pain of death, that thou never distress none errant-knights that ride on their adventures. Also, that thou restoreth these twenty knights, which thou hast long kept in prison, of all their harness, and that thou content them; and, if any of them come to my court, and complain of thee, by my head thou shalt die therefore. Also Sir Ontzlake, as to you, because ye are named a good knight, and full of prowess, and true and gentle in all your deeds, this shalt be your charge. I will that in all goodly haste ye come to me and to my court, and ye shall be a knight of mine; and if your deeds be thereafter, I shall so advance you by the grace of God, that ' ye shall, in short time, be in ease for to live as worshipfully as doth your brother, Sir Damas." "God thank you of your largess, and of your great goodness," said Sir Ontzlake; "and I promise you that from henceforth I shall be at all times at your commandment. For, sir, as God would I was hurt but late with an adventurous knight, through both my thighs, which grieved me sore, and else had I done this battle with you." "Would to God," said King Arthur, "it had been so for then had not I been hurt as I am. I shall tell you the cause why; for I had not been hurt as I am, had not it been mine own sword that was stolen from me by treason, and this battle was ordained aforehand for to have slain me, and so it was brought to the purpose by false trickery, and treason, and false enchantment." "Alas !" said Sir Ontzlake, "that is great pity that so noble a man as you are of your deeds and prowess, that any man or woman might find in their hearts to work any treason against your person." "I shall reward them," said King Arthur, "in short space, by the grace of God. Now tell, me, how far am I from Camelot ?" "Sir, ye are two days' journey therefrom." I would fain be at some place of worship," said King Arthur, "that I might rest myself." "Sir," said Sir Ontzlake, "hereby is a rich abbey of nuns, of our elder's foundation, but three miles hence." So then the King took his leave of all the people, and mounted on horseback, and Sir Accolon with him; and when they were come to the abbey, he let fetch surgeons and leeches for to search his wounds, and Sir Accolon's both ; but Sir Accolon died within four days after, for he had bled so much blood that he might not live, but King Arthur was well recovered. And when Sir Accolon was dead, he let send on horseback with six knights of Camelot, and said, "Bear him to my sister, Morgan le Fay, and say that I send him her for a present, and tell that I have my sword, Excalibur, and the scabbard." So they departed with the body.
THE meanwhile Morgan le Fay had believed that King Arthur was dead. So on a day she espied King Urience, how he lay in his bed sleeping; then she called unto her a damsel of her counsel, and said, "Go fetch me my lord's sword, for I saw never better time to slay him than now." "O madam," said the damsel, "and if ye slay my lord ye can never escape." "Care not thou," said Morgan le Fay, "for now I see my time in the which it is best to do it, and therefore hie thee fast, and fetch me the sword." Then the damsel departed, and found Sir Ewaine sleeping upon a bed in another chamber ; so she went unto Sir Ewaine, and wakened him, and bade him arise and wait upon my lady, your mother ; "for she will slay the King, your father, sleeping in his 'bed, for I go to fetch her his sword." "Well," said Sir Ewaine, "go on your way, and let me deal." Anon the damsel brought the sword unto Morgan with quaking hands, and she lightly took the sword and drew it out, and went boldly to the bed's side, and awaited how and where she might slay him best. And as she lift up the sword for to smite, Sir Ewaine came hither and leapt unto his mother, and caught her by the hand, and said, "Ah! fiend, what wilt thou do? and thou were not my mother, with this sword I would smite off thy head." "Ah !" said Sir Ewaine, "men say that Merlin was begotten of a devil ; but I may say an earthly devil bear me." "Oh! fair son, Ewaine," said Morgan, "have mercy upon me, I was tempted with the devil ; wherefore I cry thee mercy, I will never more do so, and save my worship and discover me not." "On this covenant," said Sir Ewaine, "I will give you so you will never be about to do such deeds." "Nay, son," said she, "and thereto I make you assurance,"
THEN came tidings to Morgan le Fay, that Sir Accolon was dead, and his body brought to the church, and how King Arthur had his sword again. But when Morgan wist that Sir Accolon was dead, she was so sorrowful that near her heart burst ; but because she would not that it were known, she kept her countenance outward, and made no semblance of sorrow. But well she wist, and if she abode till her brother Arthur came thither, there should no gold save her life. Then she went unto Queen Guenever, and asked her leave to ride into the country. "Ye may abide," said Queen Guenever, "till your brother, the king, come home." "I may not," said Morgan le Fay, "for I have such hasty tidings that I may not tarry." "Well," said Queen Guenever, "ye may depart when ye will." So early on the morrow, or it was day, she took her horse and rode all that day, and the most part of the night; and, on the morrow, by noon, she came to the same abbey of nuns whereas King Arthur lay, and she knowing that he was there, she asked where he was ; and they answered, and said, "that he had lain him down in his bed to sleep, for he had had but little rest these three nights." "Well," said she, "I charge you that none of you awake him till I awake him myself." And then she alighted from her horse, and thought to steal away Excalibur, his good sword ; and so she went straight unto his chamber, and no man durst disobey her commandment, and there she found King Arthur asleep in his bed, and Excalibur in his right hand naked ; when she saw that, she was passing heavy that she might not come by the sword without she had wakened him, and then she wist well that she had been dead. Then she took the scabbard, and went her way on horseback. When the King awoke and missed his scabbard, he was wondrous wrath, and asked who had been there. And they said his sister Queen Morgan, had been there, and had put the scabbard under her mantle, and was gone. "Alas !" said King Arthur, "falsely have ye watched me." "Sir," said they, "all we durst not disobey your sister's commandment." "Ah !" said the King, "let fetch the best horse that may be found, and bid Sir Ontzlake arm him in all haste, and take another good horse, and ride with me."
So anon, the King and Sir Ontzlake were well armed, and rode after this lady, and as they rode they came by a cross, and found a cowherd, and they asked the poor man if there came any lady late riding that way." "Sir," said the poor man, "right late came a lady riding with forty horses, and to yonder forest she rode." Then they spurred their horses, and followed fast after, and within awhile King Arthur had a sight of her, that he chased as fast as he might; and when she espied him following her, she rode through the forest a great pace, till she came to a plain ; and when she saw she might not escape, she rode unto a lake thereby, and said, "Whatsoever becometh of me, my brother shall not have this scabbard." And she let throw the scabbard in the deepest of the water, and it sunk ; for it was so heavy of gold and precious stones. Then she rode into a valley, where many great stones were ; and when she saw that she must needs be overtaken, she turned herself, horse and man, by enchantment into a great marble stone. So anon King Arthur and Sir Ontzlake came whereas the King might not know his sister and her men, and one knight from another. "Ah!" said the King, "here may ye see the vengeance of God; and now am I sorry that this misadventure is befallen." And then he looked for the scabbard, but it could not be found. So he returned again to the abbey that he came from. When King Arthur was gone, she turned all into the likeness as she and they were before, and said, "Sirs, now may we go wheresoever we will, for my brother Arthur is gone."
THEN-said Morgan, "Saw ye my brother, Sir Arthur?" "Yes," said her knights, "right well, and that ye should have found, and we might have stirred one steed; for, by his fierce countenance, he would have caused us to have fled." "I believe you well," said Morgan. Anon after she rode she met with a knight leading another knight on his horse before him, bound hand and foot, blindfold, to have drowned him in a fountain. When she saw that knight so bound, she asked what he would do with that knight. "Lady," said he, "I will drown him." "For what cause?" said she. "For I found him with my wife, and she shall have the same death anon." "That were pity," said Morgan. "Now what say you, ye knight, is it truth that he saith of you?" said she to the knight that should be drowned. "Nay, truly, madam, he saith not right of me." "Of whence be ye," said Morgan le Fay, "and of what country?" "I am of the court of King Arthur, and my name is Manassen, cousin unto Sir Accolon, of Gaul." "Ye say well," said she, "and for the love of him ye shall be delivered; ye shall have your adversary in the same case that ye be in'.' And so Manassen was loosed, and the other knight bound. And anon Manassen unarmed him, and armed himself in his harness, and so mounted on horseback, and the knight afore him, and so threw him into the fountain, and drowned him. And then he rode to Morgan again, and asked her if she would any thing unto King Arthur. "Tell him not that I rescued thee for the love of him, but for the love of Sir Accolon; and tell him that I fear him not; while I can make me and them that be with me in likeness of stones, and let him wit that I can do much more when I see my time." And so she departed, and went into the country of Gore, and there was she richly received, and made her castles and towns passing strong ; for always she dreaded much King Arthur. When King Arthur had well rested him at that abbey, he rode to Camelot, and found his Queen and his barons right glad of his coming. And when they heard of his strange adventures, as is afore rehearsed, they all had marvel of the falsehood of Morgan le Fay, and many knights wished her burnt. Then came Manassen to the court, and told the King of his adventure. "Well," said the King, "she is a kind sister; I shall be so avenged on her and I live, that all Christendom shall speak of it." So on the morrow there came a damsel from Morgan to the King, and she brought with her the richest mantle that ever was seen in the court, for it was set as full of precious stones as might stand one by an-other; and there were the richest stones that ever the King saw. And the damsel said, "Your sister sendeth you this mantle, and desireth you, that ye will take this gift of her, and in what thing she hath offended you, she will amend it at your own pleasure." When the King beheld this mantle, it pleased him much, but he said but little.
AND with that came the damsel of the lake unto the King, and said, "Sir, I must speak with you in private." "Say on," said the King, "what ye will." "Sir," said the lady, "put not on you this mantle till you have seen more, and in no wise let it not come upon you, nor on no knights of yours, till ye command the bringer thereof to put it upon her." "Well," said King Arthur, "it shall be done as ye counsel me." And then he said unto the damsel that came from his sister, "Damsel, this mantle that ye have brought me, I will see it upon you." "Sir," said she, "it will not beseem me to wear a knight's garment." "By my head," said Sir Arthur, "ye shall wear it, or it come on my back, or any man that is here." And so the King made it to be put upon her, and forthwith she fell down dead, and never more spake word after, and was burnt to coals.
Then was the King wondrous wrath, more than he was afore, and said unto King Urience, "My sister, your wife, is alway about to betray me; and well I wot either ye or my nephew, your son, is of counsel with her, to have me destroyed ; but as for you," said King Arthur to King Urience, "I deem not greatly that ye be of her counsel; for Sir Accolon confessed to me, with his own mouth, that she should have destroyed you as well as me, therefore I hold you excused; but as for your son, Sir Ewaine, I hold him in suspect, therefore I charge you put him out of my court." So Sir Ewaine was charged. And when Sir Gawaine wist of it, he made him ready to go with him, and said, "Whoso banished my cousin Ewaine shall banish me." So they two departed and rode in a great forest ; and so they came to an abbey of monks, and there were well lodged. But when the King wist that Sir Gawaine was departed from the court, there was made great sorrow among all the states. "Now," said Sir Gaheris, Sir Gawaine's brother, "we have lost two good knights for the love of one."
AND therewith passed a strange but seemliest knight making great moan, on one side of the land : and, on the other side, Sir Gawaine saw ten knights that halted and made them ready with their shields and spears, against that one knight that came by Sir Gawaine. Then this one knight adventured a great spear, and one of the ten knights encountered with him ; but this woeful knight smote him so hard, that he fell over the horse's tail. So this dolorous knight served them all, and smote them down, horse and man; and all he did it with one spear. And, when they were all ten on foot, they went to that one knight, and he stood stone still, and suffered them to pull him down off his horse, and bound him hand and foot, and tied him under his horse's belly, and so led him with them. "Oh! Jesus," said Sir Gawaine, "this is a doleful sight, to see yonder knight so to be treated ; and it seemeth by the knight, that he suffereth them to bind him so; for he maketh no resistance." "No, verily," said his host, "that is truth; for, and if that he would, they were all too weak so to do to him." "Sir," said the damsel unto Sir Gawaine, "me seemeth that it were your worship and honour to help that dolorous knight ; for me thinketh he is one of the best knights that ever I saw." "I would be glad to do for him," said Sir Gawaine ; "but it seemeth he will have no help." "Then," said the damsel, "me seemeth ye have no list to help him." Right thus, as they talked, they saw a knight on that other side of the land, all armed save the head ; and on that other side of the land came a dwarf on horseback, all armed save the head, with a great mouth, and a short nose. And the dwarf, when he came nigh to the knight, inquired, "Where is the lady that should meet us here?" And there-withal she came forth out of the wood, and then they began to strive for the lady; for the knight said he would have her, and the dwarf said he would have her. "Well, ye do well," said the dwarf ; "yonder is a knight at the cross ; let us put it to his judgment, and as he deemeth even so be it." "I will well," said the knight. And then they went all three unto Sir Gawaine, and told him wherefore they two strove. "Well, sirs," said he, "will ye put the matter into my hand ?" "Yes, sir," said they both. "Now, damsel," said Sir Gawaine, "ye shall stand between them both ; and, whether ye list better to go to, he shall have you. And so, when the damsel was set between them both, she left the knight and went to the dwarf; and the dwarf took her, and went his way singing, and the knight went his way with great mourning. Then came there two knights all armed, and cried on high, "Sir Gawaine, knight of King Arthur, make thee ready in all haste, and joust with me." So they ran together, that either fell down; and then on foot they drew their swords, and did full actually. In the mean-while the other knight went unto the damsel, and asked her why she abode with that knight, saying, "And, if ye would abide with me, I will be your faithful knight." "With you will I be," said the damsel ; "for with Sir Gawaine I may not find in mine heart to be with him. For now here was one knight, that discomfited ten knights, and at the last he was cowardly led away ; and, therefore, let us two go our way while they fight." And Sir Gawaine fought with the other knight long; but, at last, they were both accorded, and then the knight prayed Sir Gawaine to lodge with them that night. So, as Sir Gawaine went with this knight, he demanded him, "what knight is he in this country that smote down the ten knights? for, when he had done so manfully, he suffered them to bind him hand and foot, and so led him away." "Ah !" said the knight, "that is the best knight, I trow, in the world, and the man most of prowess; and he hath been served so, as he was even now, more than ten times, and he is named Sir Pelleas; and he loveth a great lady in this country, and her name is Ettarde. And so, when he loved her, there was cried in this country great jousts three days ; and all the knights of this country were there, and also the gentlewomen. And who that proved him the best knight should have passing good sword and a circlet of gold; and the circlet the knight should give it to the fairest lady that was at those jousts. And this knight, Sir Pelleas, was the best knight that was there, and there five hundred knights ; but there was never man that ever Sir Pelleas met withal, but that he struck him down, or else from his horse. And every day of the three days he struck down twenty knights ; therefore, they gave him the prize. And forthwithal he went there where the Lady Ettarde was, and gave her the circlet, and said openly, that she was the fairest lady that was there, and that would he prove upon any knight that would say nay.
"AND so he chose her for his sovereign lady, and never to love other but her; but she was so proud that she had scorn of him, and said, that she would never love him, though he would die for her." Wherefore all ladies and gentlewomen had scorn of her because she was so proud; for there were fairer than she, and there was none that was there but, and Sir Pelleas would have proffered them love, they would have loved him for his noble prowess. And so the knight promised the Lady Ettarde to follow her into the country, and never to leave her till she loved him ; and thus he is here the most part nigh her, and lodged by a priory, and every week she sendeth knights to fight with him; and when he hath put them to the worst, then will he suffer them wilfully to take him prisoner, because he would have a sight of this lady; and always she doth him great despite; for sometimes she maketh her knights to tie him to the horse-tail, and sometimes bind him under the horse-belly. Thus in the most shamefullest wise that she can think, he is brought to her; and all this she doth for to cause him to leave this country, and to leave his loving; but all this cannot make him to leave, for, and he would have fought on foot, he might nave had the better of the ten knights, as well on foot as on horseback. "Alas !" said Sir Gawaine, "it is great pity of him ; and after this night, in the morning, I will go seek him in the forest to do him all the help that I can." So, on the morrow, Sir Gawaine took his leave of his host, Sir Carodos, and rode into the forest; and, at the last, he met with Sir Pelleas making great mourn out of measure; so each of them saluted other, and Gawaine asked him "Why he made such sorrow ?" And, as it is above rehearsed, Sir Pelleas told Sir Gawaine, "But always I suffer her knights to fare so with me as ye saw yesterday, in trust, at the last, to win her love; for she knoweth well that all her knights should not lightly win me, and me list to fight with them to the uttermost. Wherefore, and I loved her not so sore, I had rather to die a hundred times, and I might die so often, rather than I would suffer this great despite; but I trust she will have pity upon nie at the last, for love causeth many a good knight to suffer for to have his intent; but, alas ! I am unfortunate." And herewith he made so great a mourn and sorrow, that scarce he might hold him on horse-back. "Now," said Sir Gawaine, "leave off your mourning, and I shall promise you, by the faith of my body, to do all that lieth in my power to get you the love of your lady, and thereto I will plight you my troth." "Ah! my good friend," said Sir Pelleas, "of what court are ye? I pray you that ye will tell me." And then Sir Gawaine said, "I am of the court of King Arthur, and am his sister's son, and King Lot, of Orkney, was my father, and my name is Sir Gawaine." And he then said, "My name is Sir Pelleas, born in the isles, and of many isles I am lord, and never have I loved lady nor damsel till now, in an unhappy time. And, sir knight, sith ye are so nigh a cousin unto King Arthur, and a king's son ; therefore, I pray thee, betray me not, but help me, for I may never come by her but by the help of some good knight ; for she is in a strong castle here fast by, within this four miles, and over all this country she is lady of. And so I may never come unto her presence, but as I do suffer her knights for to take me; and but if I did so that I might have a sight of her I had been dead afore this time, and yet had I never one fair word of her; but when I am brought before her she rebuketh me in the foulest manner that ever she may : and then her knights take me and my horse, and my harness, and put me out of the gates, and she will not suffer me to eat nor drink, and always I offer me to be her prisoner, but so she will not take me ; for I would desire no more what pains soever I had, so that I might have a sight of her daily." "Well," said Sir Gawaine, "all this shall I amend, and ye will do as I shall devise ; I will have your horse and your armour, and so will I ride to her castle, and tell her that I have slain you ; and so shall I come within to her, to cause her to cherish me, and then shall I do my true part, that ye shall not- fail to have her love."
AND therewithal Sir Gawaine plight his troth unto Sir Pelleas to be true and faithful unto him. When they had plight their troth, the one to the other, they changed their horses and harness, and Sir Gawaine departed and came to the castle, whereas stood the pavilions of this lady without the gate : and as soon as Ettarde had espied Sir Gawaine, she fled towards the castle. Then Sir Gawaine spake on high and bid her abide, for he was not Sir Pelleas ; "I am another knight that hath slain Sir Pelleas." "Do off your helm," said the Lady Ettarde, "that I may behold your visage." And when she saw it was not Sir Pelleas, she made him to alight, and led him unto her castle, and asked him faithfully whether he had slain Sir Pelleas, and he said yea. And then Sir Gawaine told her that his name was Sir Gawaine, and of the court of King Arthur, and his sister's son. "Truly," said she, "that is great pity, for he was a passing good knight of his body, but of all men alive I hated him most, for I never could be quiet for him; and for that ye have slain him I shall be your love, and do anything that may please you." So she made Sir Gawaine good cheer. Then Sir Gawaine said, "That he loved a lady, and by no means she would love him." "She is to blame," said Ettarde, "and she will not love ; for that ye be so well born a man, and such a man of prowess, there is no lady in this world too good for you." "Will ye," said Sir Gawaine, "promise me to do all that ye may do, by the faith of your body, to get me the love of my lady?" "Yea, sir," said she, "and that I promise you by the faith of my body." "Now," said Sir Gawaine, "it is yourself that I love so well ; therefore, I pray you, hold your promise." "I may not choose," said the Lady Ettarde; "but if I should be forsworn." And so she granted to fulfill all his desire. And then it was in the month of May that she and Sir Gawaine went out of the castle and supped in a pavilion, and there was a bed made, and in another pavilion she laid her damsels ; and in the third pavilion she laid part of her knights ; for then she had no dread nor fear of Sir Pelleas. And there Sir Gawaine was with her, in that pavilion, two days and two nights, against the faithful promise that he made to Sir Pelleas. And, on the third day, in the morning early, Sir Pelleas armed him, for he had not slept since that Sir Gawaine departed from him ; for Sir Gawaine had promised, by the faith of his body, to come unto him to his pavilion by the priory within the space of a day and a night. Then Sir Pelleas mounted on horseback, and came to the pavilions that stood without the castle, and found, in the first pavilion, three knights in their beds, and three squires lying at their feet; then went he to the second pavilion and found four gentlewomen lying in four beds; and then he went to the third pavilion, and found Sir Gawaine asleep with his lady Ettarde, and either clasping other in their arms. And when he saw that his heart almost burst for sorrow ; and said, 'Alas! that ever a knight should be found so false." And then he took his horse, and might no longer abide for sorrow. And when he had ridden nigh half-a-mile, he turned again, and thought to slay them , both ; and when he saw them both lie so fast sleeping, scarce he might hold him on horseback for sorrow, and said thus to himself : "Though he be never so false I will not slay him sleeping; for I will never destroy the high order of knighthood." And therewith he departed again, and left them sleeping. And or he had ridden half-a-mile he re-turned again, and thought then to slay them, making the greatest sorrow that any man might make ; and when he came to the pavilions, he tied his horse to a tree, and pulled out his sword naked in his hand, and went straight to them where they lay together, and yet he thought it were great shame to slay them sleeping, and laid the naked sword overthwart their throats, and then he took his horse and rode forth his way, making great and woeful lamentation. And when Sir Pelleas came to his pavilions, he told his knights and squires how he had sped, and said thus to them : "For your true and faithful service that you have done to me I shall give you all my goods ; for I will go unto my bed, and never arise until I be dead. And when I am dead I charge you that ye take the heart of my body, and bear it unto her, between two silver discs, and tell her how I saw her lie in her pavilion with the false knight Sir Gawaine." Right so Sir Pelleas unarmed himself and went to bed, making the greatest sorrow that ever man heard: And then Sir Gawaine and the Lady Ettarde awakened out of their sleep, and found the naked sword overthwart both their throats ; then she knew well that it was Sir Pelleas' sword. "Alas !" said she to Sir Gawaine, "ye have betrayed me and Sir Pelleas also; for ye told me that ye had slain him, and now I know well it is not so, he is alive; and if Sir Pelleas had been as courteous to you as you have been to him ye had been a dead knight, but ye have deceived me and betrayed me falsely, that all ladies and damsels may beware by you and me." And therewith Sir Gawaine made him ready, and went into the forest. Then it happened that the damsel of the lake, Nimue, met with a knight of Sir Pelleas, which went on foot in the forest making great moan, and she asked him the cause of his sorrow ; then the woeful knight told her, "how that his master and lord was betrayed through a knight and a lady, and how he would never arise out of his bed till he were dead." "Bring me to him anon, and I will warrant his life, that he shall not die for love ; and she that hath caused him to love, she shall be in as evil a plight as he is now, or it be long; for it is no joy of such a presumptuous lady that will have no mercy of such a valiant knight." Anon the knight brought her to his lord and master. And when she saw him so lying in his bed, she thought she had never seen so likely a knight, and therewith she threw an enchantment upon him, and he fell asleep. And in the meanwhile she rode to the Lady Ettarde, and charged that no man should waken him till she came again. And so within two hours she brought the Lady Ettarde thither, and both the ladies found him asleep. "Lo !" said the damsel of the lake, "ye ought to be ashamed to murder such a knight." And therewith she cast such an enchantment upon her, that she loved him out of measure, that well nigh she was out of her mind. "Oh! Lord Jesus," said the Lady Ettarde, "how is it befallen me that I now love him which I before most hated of all men living?" "This is the right wise judgment of God," said the lady of the lake. And then anon Sir Pelleas awoke, and looked upon the Lady Ettarde ; and when he saw her he knew her, and then he hated her more than any woman alive, and said, "Go thy way hence, thou traitoress ; come no more in my sight." And when she heard him say so, she wept, and made great sorrow out of measure.
Now return we unto Sir Marhaus, that rode with the damsel of thirty winters of age southward, and so they came into a deep forest, and by fortune they were benighted, and rode long in a deep way, and at the last they came unto a courtyard, and there they demanded harbour. But the man of the court-yard would not harbour them for no treating that they could treat; but this much the good man said: "And ye will take the ad-venture of your lodging, I shall bring you where ye shall be lodged." "What adventure is that, that I shall have for my lodging?" said Sir Marhaus. "Ye shall wit when ye come there," said the good man. "What adventure soever it be, I require thee bring me thither," said Sir Marhaus, "for I am weary, and my damsel and my horse," so the good man went and opened the gate, and within an hour he brought him unto a fair castle. And then the poor man called the porter, and anon he was let into the castle, and forthwith he showed to the lord how he had brought him an knight-errant, and a damsel that would be lodged with him. "Let him come in," said the lord, "it may happen that they shall repent that they took their lodging here in this castle." So Sir Marhaus was let in with torch-light, and there was a goodly sight of young men that welcomed him. And then his horse was led into the stable, and he and his damsel was brought into the hall : and there stood a mighty duke ; and many goodly men about him. Then this lord asked him his name, and from whence he came, and with what man he dwelled. "Sir," said he, "I am a knight of King Arthur's, and knight of the Table Round, and my name is Sir Marhaus, and I was born in Ireland." And then said the duke unto him, "That me sore repenteth, and the cause is this : I love not thy lord, nor none of all thy fellows that be of the Table Round; and, therefore, ease thyself this night as well as thou mayst, for tomorrow I and my six sons shall match with thee, if God will." "Is there none other remedy but that I must have ado with you and your six sons at once?" said Sir Marhaus.
"No," said the duke, "for this cause I made mine vow : Sir Gawaine slew my seven sons in an encounter; and, therefore, I made mine avow, that there should never no knight of King Arthur's court lodge with me, or come here as I might have ado with him, but that I should revenge the death of my seven sons." "Sir, I require you," said Sir Marhaus, "that ye will tell me, if it please you, what your name is ?" "Wit ye well that I am the Duke of the South Marshes." "Ah !" said Sir Marhaus, "I have heard say that ye have been a long time a great foe unto my lord King Arthur, and to his knights." "That shall ye feel to-morrow," said the duke. "Shall I have ado with you?" said Sir Marhaus. "Yea," said the duke, "thereof thou shalt not choose; therefore, take thee to thy chamber, where thou shalt have all that to thee belongeth." So Sir Marhaus departed, and was led to a chamber, and his damsel was also led to her chamber. And on the morrow the duke sent to Sir Marhaus, that he should make him ready. And so Sir Marhaus arose and armed him, and then there was a mass sung afore him, and after breakfast, and so mounted on horse-back in the court of the castle, where they should do battle. So there was the duke all ready on horseback, clean armed, and his six sons by him, and every one had a spear in his hand ; and so they encountered, whereas the duke, and two of his sons, brake their spears upon him ; but Sir Marhaus held up his spear and touched none of them.
THEN came the four sons of the duke by couples, and two of them brake their spears, and so did the other two; and all this while Sir Marhaus did not touch them. Then Sir Marhaus ran to the duke, and so smote him with his spear, that horse and man fell to the earth; and so he served his sons. And then Sir Marhaus alighted down, and bid the duke yield him, or else he would slay him ; and then some of his sons recovered, and would have set upon Sir Marhaus. Then said Sir Marhaus to the duke, "Cease thy sons, or else I will do the uttermost to you all." Then when the duke saw he might not escape death, he cried to his sons, and charged them to yield them unto Sir Marhaus. And they kneeled all down, and put the pommels of their swords unto Sir Marhaus, and he received them ; and then they helped their father; and there, by a common assent, promised unto Sir Marhaus never to be foes unto King Arthur, and thereupon, at Pentecost after, the duke to come, and his six sons, and put them in the King's grace. Then Sir Marhaus departed ; and, within two days, his damsel brought him whereas was a great tournament that the Lady de Vause had cried; and who that did best should have a rich circlet of gold, worth a thousand besaunts. And there Sir Marhaus did so nobly, that he was renowned to have smitten down forty knights ; and so the circlet of gold was rewarded him. Then he departed from thence with great worship ; and, within seven days after, the damsel brought him to the earl's place, whose name was called Fergus, which after was Sir Tristram's knight; and this earl was but a young man, and late come to his lands; and there was a giant fast by him that hight (named) Taulurd, and he had another in Cornwall, that hight Taulas, that Sir Tristram slew when he was out of his mind. So this earl made his complaint unto Sir Marhaus, that there was a giant by him, that destroyed all his lands, and how he durst nowhere ride nor go for him. "Sir," said Sir Marhaus, "useth he to fight on horseback or on foot?" "Nay," said the earl, "there may no horse bear him, he is so great." "Well," said Sir Marhaus, "then will I fight with him on foot." So on the morrow Sir Marhaus prayed the earl, that one of his men might bring him whereas the giant was ; and so he was aware of him, for he saw him sit under a holly tree, and many clubs of iron and battle-axes about him. So Sir Marhaus dressed him to the giant, putting his shield afore him, and the giant started to a club of iron, and came against Sir Marhaus as fast as he might drive; and, at the first stroke, he clave Sir Marhaus's shield all to pieces, and light on a stone and crushed it into the earth, and there he was in great peril, for the giant was a wily fighter : but, at the last, Sir Marhaus smote off his right arm above the elbow. Then the giant fled, and the knight after him,, and so he drove him to a water, but the giant was so high, that he could not wade after him ; and then Sir Marhaus made the Earl Fergus's man to fetch stones, and with those stones he gave the giant many a sore knock, till at last he made him to fall down into the water, and so he was there drowned. Then Sir Marhaus went to the giant's castle, and there he delivered out of the giant's prison twenty-four ladies, and twenty-two knights, and there he had riches without number, so that all the days of his life he was never poor man after. Then he returned to the Earl Fergus, which greatly thanked him, and would have given him half his land, but he would take none. So Sir Marhaus dwelled with the earl nigh half-a-year, for he was sore bruised with the giant, and at the last he took his leave ; and as he rode by the way he met with Sir Gawaine and Sir Ewaine; and so by adventure, he met with four knights of King Arthur's court; the first was Sir Sagramore le Desirous, Sir Osanna, Sir Dodinas le Savage, and Sir Felot of Listinoise ; and there Sir Marhaus, with one spear, smote down these four knights and hurt them sore. So he departed, and met his day afore set.
Now turn we unto Ewaine, which rode westward with his damsel of threescore winters of age, and she brought him there as was a tournament, nigh the march of Wales. And at that tournament Sir Ewaine smote down thirty knights, wherefore the prize was given him, and the prize was a gerfalcon and a white steed trapped with cloth of gold. So then Sir Ewaine did many strange adventures, by the means of the old damsel that went with him; and so she brought him unto a lady that was called the Lady of the Rock, which was a full courteous lady. So there were in that country two knights that were brethren, and they were called two perilous knights ; the one hight Sir Edward, of the Red Castle, and the other hight Sir Hue, of the Red Castle : and these two brethren had disinherited the Lady of the Rock of a barony of lands by their extortion. And, as Sir Ewaine lodged with this lady, she made her complaint unto him of these two knights. "Madam," said Sir Ewaine, "they are to blame, for they do against the high order of knighthood, and the oath that they have made ; and, if it like you, I will speak with them, because I am a knight of King Arthur's, and I will entreat them with fairness ; and, if they will not, I shall do battle with them in the defence of your right." "Gramercy !" said the lady, "and thereas I may not acquit you, God shall." So on the morrow the two knights were sent for, that they should come thither to speak with the Lady of the Rock. And wit it well they failed not, for they came with a hundred horses. But when the lady saw them in this manner so many, she would not suffer Sir Ewaine to go out unto them, neither upon surety, nor for fair language, but she made him to speak with them out of a tower. But, finally, these two brethren would not be entreated, and answered, that they would keep what they had. "Well," said Sir Ewaine, "then will I fight with one of you both, and prove upon your bodies, that ye do wrong and extortion unto this lady." "That will we do not," said the two brethren; "for, and we do battle, we two will fight with one knight at once ; and, therefore, if ye will fight so, we will be ready at what hour ye will assign us : and, if that ye win us in plain battle, then the lady shall have her lands again." "Ye say well," said Sir Ewaine, "therefore make you ready, so that ye be here to-morrow in the defence of the lady's right."
THEN was there peace made on both parties, that no treason should be wrought on neither. So then the knights departed and made them ready; and that night Sir Ewaine had great cheer. And, on the morrow, he arose early and heard mass, and broke his fast, and after rode unto the plain without the gates, where halted the two brethren abiding him. Then rode they together passing sore, that Sir Edward and Sir Hue brake their spears upon Sir Ewaine : and Sir Ewaine smote Sir Ed-ward, that he fell over his horse's tail, and yet brake not his spear: and then he spurred his horse and came upon Sir Flue, and overthrew him; but they soon recovered and dressed their shields, and drew their swords, and bid Sir Ewaine alight and do battle to the uttermost. Then Sir Ewaine avoided suddenly his horse, and put his shield afore him, and drew his sword, and so they dressed together, and either gave other great strokes ; and there these two brethren wounded Sir Ewaine passing sore, that the Lady of the Rock weened that he would have died. And thus fought they together five hours as men enraged, and without reason : and, at the last, Sir Ewaine smote Sir Edward upon the helm such a buffet, that his sword carved him unto his collar bone; and then Sir Hue abated his courage. But Sir Ewaine pressed fast to have slain him: and when Sir Hue saw that, he kneeled down, and yielded him unto Sir Ewaine. And he of his gentleness received his sword, and took him by the hand, and went into the castle together. Then the Lady of the Rock was passing glad, and Sir Hue made great moan for his brother's death. Then the lady was restored unto her lands, and Sir Hue was commanded to be at the court of King Arthur at the next feast of Pentecost. So Sir Ewaine dwelled with the lady nigh half-a-year, for it was long or he might be whole of his great hurts. And then, when it drew nigh the term day, that Sir Gawaine should meet at the cross way, then every knight drew him thither to hold his promise that they had made; and Sir Marhaus and Sir Ewaine brought their damsels with them; but Sir Gawaine had lost his damsel, as it is afore rehearsed.
AND right at the twelvemonth's end they met all three knights at the fountain, and their damsels : but the damsel that Sir Gawaine had with him could say but little worship of him. So they departed from the damsels and rode through a great forest, and there they met with a messenger that came from King Arthur, which had sought them well nigh a twelve-month throughout all England, Wales, and Scotland, and was charged, if that he might find Sir Gawaine and Sir Ewaine, to bring them unto the court again : and then were they all glad ; and so they prayed Sir Marhaus to ride with them unto King Arthur's court. And so within twelve days they came to Camelot; and the King was passing glad of their coming, and so were all they of the court. Then King Arthur made them to swear upon a book, to tell him all their adventures that there had been fallen them all the twelvemonths, and so they did. And there was Sir Marhaus well known; for there were knights that he had matched afore time, and he was named one of the best knights then living. Against the feast of Pentecost came the Damsel of the Lake, and brought with her Sir Pelleas; and at that high feast there was a great jousting of knights, and, of all the knights that were at that jousting, Sir Pelleas had the prize, and Sir Marhaus was named the next. But Sir Pelleas was so strong, that there might but a few knights hit him a buffet with a spear. And, at that feast, Sir Pelleas and Sir Marhaus were made knights of the Table Round, for there were two sieges void, for two knights had been slain in those twelve months. And great joy had King Arthur of Sir Pelleas and Sir Marhaus : but Sir Pelleas loved never after Sir Gawaine, but that he spared him for the love of King Arthur : but often times, at the jousts and tournaments, Sir Pelleas quitted Sir Gawaine ; for so it is rehearsed in the French Book. So Sir Tristram, many days after that, fought with Sir Marhaus in an island, and there they did a great battle; but at the last Sir Tristram slew him. And Sir Tristram was sore wounded, that hardly he might recover, and lay at a nunnery half-a-year. And Sir Pelleas was a worshipful knight, and was one of the four that achieved the Sancgreal ; and the Damsel of the Lake made by her means, that never he had ado with Sir Launcelot du Lake; for whereas Sir Launcelot was at any jousts or tournaments she would not suffer him to be there on that day, but if it were on Sir Launcelot's side.